See top photos from the Gamecocks’ win over Ole Miss
South Carolina’s defense gave up 44 points in its first 10 drives.
It gave up 16 yards in its final series.
Muschamp said there was a simple change at work, as USC suddenly found a way to corral a high-flying Ole Miss attack late in a 48-44 win.
“We played a little bit more man at the end,” Muschamp said, “made (Rebel QB Jordan Ta’amu) throw into a little bit more tight spaces.
“Our coverage was good when we were in man and that’s what we talked in the second half as far as playing a little bit more man coverage because in the zones, they really hurt us.”
He pointed out the play-action passes gave Ta’amu time and extra protection, and in zone, he was able to pick on USC.
Muschamp also noted the Gamecocks had to proceed gingerly because of injuries in the secondary. At various points, R.J. Roderick, Jamyest Williams, Steven Montac and Javon Charleston all got hurt. It meant seldom-used redshirt freshman Jaylin Dickerson was forced into action, and at points, the team had four freshmen, three true, in the secondary.
On those final four drives, Ta’amu was 3-for-8 for 10 yards and got sacked on a third down. His team converted only one of five third downs.
Overall, the Gamecocks gave up 6.3 yards per play, 4.7 per pass and 7.9 per pass attempt. That included 11 passes of 15 yards or more. USC ended the day with four players with four or more tackles (Montac, Roderick, linebacker T.J. Brunson, corner Keisean Nixon) and three sacks, which tied a season high.
But none in the fourth quarter, when South Carolina made its change and did enough defensively for the win.
“They were just catching little zone passes on us,” Montac said. “We just switched it up, manned it up. They can’t really beat man-to-man like that.”